“This is the third year that we are coming together to sharpen up conservancies to comply”, said Bennett Kahuure, Deputy Director of Parks and Wildlife at the MET, who opened the Good Governance and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) compliance training workshop, which was held in Windhoek at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) Hotel School from the 18th to 20th June.
The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen the capacity of CBNRM field-based staff, so that they are better equipped to assist in improving conservancy’s compliance as outlined in the Ministry’s guidelines for conservancy management.
The meeting was attended by conservationists from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Namibia Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO), and community conservation support organisations, including the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), Namibia Development Trust (NDT) and Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia (NNFN). The workshop also gave an opportunity to reflect and share experiences amongst CBNRM partners, which also gave recommendations on how to improve on services rendered to conservancies.
Communal conservancies are registered in order for members to derive benefits from the sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources found in their areas. To ensure that the benefits derived are equitably shared and distributed to members, the Ministry has set out some compliance measures, which conservancies are required to adhere to. Some of these measures include holding an annual general meeting and submitting minutes, chairpersons report, annual financial statement & bank statement, Game utilisation report, and Benefit distribution report & plan.
Certain issues that affect conservancy management and consequently benefit distribution were discussed, of which one of them is financial mismanagement. There have been increasing incidents of fraud, mismanagement and over-expenditure by some of the conservancy management committees. Despite the ministry’s guidelines and other interventions, members are still hesitant to take the necessary actions as provided in the SOPs to hold the management committee or staff accountable.
The meeting was evident that the MET and conservation organisations strive to improve conservancies’ management. Due to high non-compliance in most of the conservancies, the MET is working on Financial Management Directives, which will give guidelines regarding the disbursement of conservancy funds, and assess financial management and performance of conservancies with regards to benefit distribution to members.
The MET is currently working on the draft and with recommendations acquired from the workshop participants, the directives should be translated into regulations later, which will give the Ministry more leverage to hold non-compliant conservancies or individuals accountable.
With Bennett Kahuure's words still echoing in the room: “Let us make a difference in the lives of the people that we serve,” the workshop ended with conservation field staff looking forward to help conservancies improve their management and to address issues of compliance in their respective conservancies.
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In Environment Watch, we like to bring solutions, as well as to point out the seriousness of the problems we face. People are talking and acting. Read Greta Thurnberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in conversation.
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